Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Devil Binding

This is an attempt to create a Devil binding system for Old-School D&D based on the webcomic ‘Kill Six Billion Demons’. The guy who does it would probably get round to it himself but he's into Apocalypse World.

Click through the links and scan to the bottom of the page to read more full and fun descriptions of each Devil.

The rules below don’t perfectly match the webcomic, they are the closest I could get and still have them serviceable for the purpose I imagined.

NAME AND COLOUR

A name gives a Devil a particular personality and continuity. If it has no name, a devil has no identity, history, knowledge, person or self. A Devil can have a name in up to six parts. Or, we should say that a Devil has six meaningful names, or name-parts. As stated below, a Devil can have hundereds of names and this may be a deliberate act by the Devil-binder so that the Devil does not know which are relevant to it.

Each part or section of the name forces the Devil into a particular relation to reality, making it less powerful the more names it has.

The apparent power of Devils doesn’t run in a direct scale. Each class of devil has a particular nature, and a particular colour, depending on the amount of names it has.

Six names - Pale
Five names - Blue
Four names - Red
Three names - Green
Two names - Gold
One name - Black

The colour of a Devil will be the colour of its mask. This also affects the physical and mental nature of the Devil.

STATS - Pretty much just ripped off the MM so feel free to alter or replace.

 All Devils can see in the dark and all can move between Planes at will.

·         All Devils can read and speak all languages, even the stupid ones.
·         All can Detect Invisible at will.
·         They take half Damage from Cold, Acid, Electricity, Fire & Gas.
·         All have magic resistance 50%

PALE;

Cacodaemon
Armour -  As Chain
Hit Dice 7
Attacks d4/d6/d8/
Speed - Half again as fast as an unencumbered man.
Intelligence - Animalistic, a little above a dog. Incapable of complex work or ideas.
Attitude - Slavish and deranged, like a well-paid crackhead. The danger in dealing with them perhaps comes because they do not understand their own self interest. Their masks look kind of crappy and they may have broken or inferior masks. It’s possible that if you only have a crappy mask to use then you have to have a lot of names to keep the thing under control.
Obsessive Counting – Will count anything spread before it.


BLUE;

Imp
Armour - As unarmoured
Hit Dice 3
Attacks d3/d3/d4
Speed - Human standard.
Intelligence - Human-Level.
Attitude - Frantic and unwise. Manic. Chatty. Addictive personality. These are the most 'human' of the devils. They and act much of the time like crafty, clever, sneaky people. They can use magic, or at least magic items. They are smaller than people and don't seem to pose much of a physical threat. They are capable of learning magic and has a particular penchant for magical items, which they can use with great facility. If left near magical items or knowledge it will peruse, steal, record, adapt or make use of what it finds.


RED;

War Devil
Armour - As leather (usually as plate due to armour).
Hit Dice 10
Attacks d6/d6/d6/d6/
Speed - Twice as fast as an unencumbered man.
Intelligence - Human-Level.
Attitude - Phlegmatic and sardonic. Incredibly violent.

The Crimson Devil enjoys collecting both weapons and armour from their victims and are often found bestrewn with these mementos. They make use of relatively unsubtle but effective combat tactics. They are one of the only Devils to use ranged weapons.

They can learn and use magic, but generally do not.

  

Verdant - Dead Man's Devil
Armour - as leather
(immune to normal weapons)
Hit Dice 11
Attacks 2d8/2d8/2d10
Can use the following at-will;
·         Raise Dead
·         Speak With Dead
·         Control Undead
·         Create Illusion
·         Cause Fear
·         Detect Magic
·         Dispel Magic
·         Polymorph Self
·         Project Image
·         Teleportation (No Error)
Intelligence - Genius level.
Attitude - Silent and still to a disturbing degree.

The Verdant Devil occupies a great deal of its time with planning, considering and collecting secrets. It always prefers to wait and will act only when certain.



Gilded Devil
Armour - as plate
(immune to normal weapons)
Hit Dice 12
Attacks 10d6 to be distributed however it desires.
Breath weapon if desired.
Can use the following at-will;
·         Create Illusion
·         Cause Fear
·         Detect Magic
·         Charm Person
·         Levitate
·         ESP
·         Pyrotechnics
·         Polymorph Self
·         Project Image
·         Teleportation (No Error)
Intelligence - Extra-Human.
Attitude - Cultivated, cultured, social, subtle, domineering and funny.

The Gilded Devil almost always occupies the centre of a fast network of political, social, military and financial influence.



Ebon Devil
Armour - as plate and shield and two more shields
(immune to normal weapons)
Hit Dice 13
Attacks 2d12/3d12/4d12/5d12
Can use the following at-will;
·         Create Illusion
·         Cause Fear
·         Detect Magic
·         Charm Person
·         ESP
·         Polymorph Self
·         Polymorph Other
·         Project Image
·         Raise Dead
·         Speak With Dead
·         Control Undead
·         Cause Fear
·         Detect Magic
·         Dispel Magic
·         Sleep
·         Teleportation (No Error)

Intelligence – Unknown, but high..
Attitude – Unknown.

These are very bad. They gain whatever power they can however they can and there is no upper limit to this power.

WHAT DO DEVILS WANT?

 They want to be physically incarnated in the ‘real world’.

They want to be Black. That is, the most powerful, the most free, the most under their own control that they can be.

But, they need to keep that last name. If they lose it, they are destroyed.

They have another problem. Names decay. If a Devil keeps a name long enough, the name, and possibly the mask that goes with it, suffers some kind of entropic degradation. It’s possible that just as a Devil desperately wants to lose its names it also needs, very occasionally, to be re-named and re-masked. 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE A MASK TO DECAY?

 I came up with some non-canon bullshit to kind-of make sense of this.

Pale - d12 Months.
Blue – d12 Years.
Red – d12 Decades.
Green – d12 Centuries.
Gold – d12 millennia.
Black- d12 Eons.

This gives low-level devils reasons to keep making deals and interacting with people and give high-ranking devils a good reason not to make deals for anything less than really good reasons.

Let’s assume also that if a Devil is outside the material plane, or consensus reality, then the degradation in its mask and name stops or slows. In D&D terms this might be the elemental planes, ethereal plane etc.

This gives Devils somewhere to hang out that isn’t here and reasons to go there. And it gives PC’s good reasons to go to the weird planes and find the Devil bars where they all hang out.


GETTING A MASK

 D&D handles this kind of stuff quite well already. It’s a magical item and we have a thousand ways of placing those.

Find a Lost One - put it in a fucking dungeon man! It's literally the name of the game.

Make One - A very powerful NPC might make one. A very powerful PC might make one. It should have an enormous cost in either cash, time, personal sacrifice, morality, or all four.

Reclaim One - If it’s on a living devil it’s not clear that they come off. If they do, it's not easy. Even if it does, it may still have a name and, though bodiless, an identity. This isn't good for you.


ASSUMING YOU HAVE A MASK, HOW DO YOU BIND A DEVIL?


·         The PC who wishes to bind the devil plays their character.
·         The DM plays the Devil.
·         The Other players gather separately and are a kind of invisible broker.
·         You will need a bunch of bits of paper.


Arranging clauses of a contract is like arranging names. There can be six clauses to a contract and six names with one 'agreement' per name. Each 'clause' can be no more than a sentence long with no commas and no punctuation other than a full stop at the end.

·         The Binder - Proposes a clause or term, this has to be written down by the player.
·         The Devil - makes its argument, it would prefer the minimal number of clauses and will remind the Binder of what it can do for them if allowed to be more powerful.
·         If the Devil and the PC can come to an agreement on a particular clause then the player writes it down with a number and give it to the Devil and writes down a name with that number and gives that to the other players.
·         Once a piece of paper is given away the PC cannot look at it.
·         This being accomplished the Devil offers to seal the agreement with a Devils Kiss (effectively a supernatural signature) but the binder probably has more clauses they wish to propose.

(In the webcomic this might be done in song but I won’t enforce that in D&D.)

This goes on with up to six names and up to six clauses.

Assuming neither the Devil or the player have backed out or that combat has not broken out then they 'shake hands'. A Devils Kiss, or fragment of the Black Flame appears on the body of the Binder. They are both bound by the agreement now.

·         The binder takes the mask, puts it on the devil and, WITHOUT LOOKING athe written name, says "I name you..."
·         They have to get all the names in the agreement right, IN ORDER,
·         No hesitation, repetition or deviation (unless the name is a repetition).
·         No coughing, pausing or dallying.
·         If they fuck up a name, the other players don’t have to tell the PC, but they have to tell the Devil and the Devil can tear up the clause that matches that name.
·         The Binder can add other names into the mix if they like. As many as they want so long as the agreement-names are in there, in the right order, and are correct. The devil doesn't get to know which are the agreement names.
·         The devil doesn't have to show the Binder the agreement clauses ever again. It’s the players job to remember them.

That done, the devil is named and must serve the terms of its contract. It can do whatever it likes so long as it doesn’t break any of the written clauses. If it does that then it is banished to the black flame.

Obviously the Devil will try to ‘Monkeys Paw’ the shit out of this contract.
  

HOW DOES A DEVIL GET RID OF ITS NAMES?

 A devil knows its own names and knows that if it loses all its valid names then it is destroyed. It would help if it know which ones were the valid ones, but only the Binder can tell it that.

To remove a name, it has to be accepted somehow by another intelligent being in a bargain involving a Devils kiss. This might involve a bet, a trade, a trick, a scheme or a service of any kind.

The exchange must be willing.

The names can only be removed one at a time.

(This part isn't the best,  need an elegant way to stop the Devils just outright terrorising some poor fuck into taking the name.)




6 comments:

  1. so would clauses be limitations like "cannot leave this room" or "cannot touch metal" or "stay in physically in contact with the earth"

    or would they be summon-and-bind-to-service clauses, like "kill the duke of edinburgh", "keep my library organized"

    or even something like "obey any command given in rhyming form"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Considering that the Devils are super-chaotic and probably want to do as much damage to reality, and their binder, as possible, the first clause would probably be something about not harming the Binder.

      Like, unless you specifically bind them not do do something, they can do it. So that would include harming you, harming other people, not listening to or obeying you etc.

      Delete
  2. What about enlisting other demons as the limiting agent in the removing names process?
    Any deal or bet that a demon tries to use to remove a name has to have other demons agree that it is fair vs. what 'cosmic forces' think is fair.

    This is the infernal equivalent of hew-and-cry laws. The nearest demon(s) necessary for the deal are required to give an input on the standing of the deal.

    Cosmically-Unfair trade fails?
    Supporters forget a random name/bond connection they had discovered. Deniers get a free guess on a bond/name pairing. The target of the deal gets to give the dealer a name and bond, or modify one in the case of a full six names.
    If it succeeds?
    Supporters and Deniers get nothing. The demon gets to enact the deal.

    Cosmically-Fair Trade Fails?
    Nobody loses anything.
    If it Succeeds?
    Supporters get a free guess at their name/bond pairings. Deniers lose nothing. The Demon enacts the deal.

    The nearest X* demons get asked, a majority must support a deal for it to go through.
    Pale - 3 Demons
    Blue – 5 Demons
    Red – 9 Demons
    Green – 17 Demons
    Gold – 33 Demons
    Black- 65 Demons

    *Could make this system exponential but have demons with fewer masks count as more demons.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "This part isn't the best, need an elegant way to stop the Devils just outright terrorising some poor fuck into taking the name."

    Have it be that the receiver of the name must be of a commiserate power level to the significance of the name for that devil. Or else, the devil must invest that much of their personal power into that individual, in order to make them match that level of power. So a gold devil is on the hook for a great deal more in terms of cost, and it's inclined only to make deals with the more powerful, whereas lower-tier devils are empowered to make deals with many more people (although they have less to offer as a reward)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Have you been reading Kill Six Billion Demons? Love KSBD, love this.

    ReplyDelete